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blasted chipmunk
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Registered: 09/18/03
Posts: 8,020
comparing gentoo to debian ~ commands and configs
    #4600186 - 08/30/05 08:01 PM (11 years, 11 months ago)

i found this on the gentoo wiki. it isnt argueing for or against either distro, it just shows how to do similar things in each for people that like to try different distros (like me). please excuse all the 'edit' tags, it is copied from a wiki.



This page is supposed to show people coming from or going to Debian how some things compare in the 2 distros. It's a pragmatic comparison and doesn't judge which one is better.

This is very incomplete.
Package management

Where Gentoo has portage and emerge, Debian has, among others, apt. This is to show you how you use either to handle updates, installs, and so forth.
Updating package database on your system


emerge --sync


apt-get update

Updating packages on your system

Updating all packages, only pretending the operation:

emerge --deep --update --pretend world


apt-get upgrade --simulate

Update a particular package:

emerge --update package1 package2
apt-get install package1 package2

Installing packages

emerge package1 package2


apt-get install package1 package2

Debian source compile:

apt-get build-dep package1
apt-get source package1

(optional: customize the build by modifying the debian/rules makefile) (or set environmental variables like DEB_BUILD_OPTIONS) (note that this will make your bug reports invalid to the maintainer)

dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -uc -b
dpkg -i generatedpackagename

Reinstall a particular package

emerge --oneshot package1 package2


apt-get install --reinstall package1 package2

Note: You rarely need to reinstall a package on Debian
Searching package database

To search the package names and descriptions:

emerge --searchdesc searchword

Note: on gentoo, it's actually much better to install and use the esearch package to do search

apt-cache search searchword

Both emerge and apt-cache search support regular expressions.

To get the long package information on Debian (searching only in package names):

apt-cache search --full --names-only searchword

Removing packages

emerge --unmerge package1 package2

apt-get remove package1 package2

or to remove along with all configuration files

apt-get remove --purge package1 package2

Only downloading packages

This can be useful e.g. if you're on a dial-up connection and want to download everything first and install later.

emerge --fetchonly package1 package2

apt-get install --download-only package1 package2

Cleaning up downloaded packages

Compressed packages that were downloaded for installation can easily consume gigs of hdd space.


rm -rf /usr/portage/distfiles/*


apt-get clean

Debian: Only remove outdated packages:

apt-get autoclean

Gentoo: Cleaning temporary files from emerging packages:

rm -rf /var/tmp/portage/*

GUI frontends for package management

Gentoo: kuroo, porthole (both are masked)

Debian: aptitude, dselect (both ncurses based), synaptic (gtk)
Reverse dependencies

Reverse dependencies are a major drawback of Gentoo's current portage implementation: It does not take care of them at all at the moment. This means that you can uninstall packages needed by others without being warned about it. E.g. you can remove the x server package without portage warning you that kde (which you have installed as well) depends on it. This way you can actually break your entire system (e.g. by removing glibc).

revdep-rebuild can fix broken dependencies broken by emerge --depclean.

In Debian, reverse dependencies are taken care of by dpkg.
Runlevel & Initscripts

Runlevels work pretty conventionally on Debian. On Gentoo, they are a bit different.
Directories and files

In Debian runlevels are named conventionally (0-6 and S). They are represented by directories in /etc/ called rc*.d.

* /etc/rc0.d
* /etc/rc1.d
* /etc/rcS.d
* /etc/rc2.d
* /etc/rc3.d
* /etc/rc4.d
* /etc/rc5.d
* /etc/rc6.d

In Gentoo, runlevels have the same names, but these are mapped to more self explanatory ones (in /etc/inittab): "boot", "default", "nonetwork", with the option to add more. The directories that represent them are in /etc/runlevels/:

* /etc/runlevels/boot
* /etc/runlevels/default
* /etc/runlevels/nonetwork

In Gentoo, if a service is not explicitly started in a runlevel, it is stopped when switching to that runlevel! There is no explicit stopping of runlevels as in Debian (/etc/rc?.d/K??service).

In both Debian and Gentoo, which things are started (and stopped) in which runlevels is controlled by links in the runlevel directories to scripts in /etc/init.d/, e.g.:
Code: gentoo $ ls -l /etc/runlevels/boot/hostname

lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 20 Mar 25 2004 /etc/runlevels/boot/hostname -> /etc/init.d/hostname

Code: debian $ ls -l rcS.d/S40hostname.sh

lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 21 2004-11-07 00:19 rcS.d/S40hostname.sh -> ../init.d/hostname.sh

Runlevel management: rc-update, update-rc.d

To manage which things to start in which runlevels, use the following commands:


To add the cupsd to the default runlevel, do:

rc-update add cupsd default

To remove alsasound from the boot runlevel, do:

rc-update del alsasound boot

Also see this wiki page about gentoo runlevel management with rc-update


Configure cupsd to be started in runlevels 2, 3, 4, 5, and stopped in 0, 1, 6, with sequence code 20:

update-rc.d cupsd start 20 2 3 4 5 . stop 20 0 1 6 .

or simply:

update-rc.d cupsd defaults

Remove cupsd from all runlevels:

update-rc.d -f cupsd remove

Config Files
/etc/make.conf and use flags

While in gentoo there are a large number of configuration files which exist to control the behaviour of the package management system, there are comparatively fewer in Debian, as there is no need to dictate how to compile software which is downloaded and tweak / alter this purpose. In gentoo, the file /etc/make.conf is used for much configuration; this includes USE flags, which influence which elements of packages are compiled, and which libraries to build support for - common USE flags (USE or -USE to specifically negate support) include 'gtk gnome' for gnome users (and a corresponding -qt -kde -arts) and 'qt kde arts' for kde users. A gentoo user's complete set of use flags may look something like this:

USE="-kde -arts -qt xv truetype bluetooth crypt slang readline gpm berkdb mmx gdbm tcpd pam libwww ssl nls ethereal perl python esd gif imlib sdl oggvorbis mpeg gnome gtk X motif opengl avi png tiff nptl pcmcia nptl ldap eds"
arch and repositories

Also in /etc/make.conf is the ACCEPT_KEYWORDS setting, with (for an X86-based processor) two settings, x86 for stabler packages, and ~x86 for bleeding edge packages. In debian, setting this is slightly more complicated, and is accomplished by setting different 'repositories' in /etc/apt/sources.list - along with which 'tree' to use for packages; in debian, these are stable, testing, and unstable. An /etc/apt/sources.list file for a debian testing user may look something like this:

deb http://mirrors.kernel.org/debian testing main non-free contrib
deb ftp://ftp.nerim.net/debian-marillat testing main
deb http://security.debian.org testing/updates main contrib non-free

Alternatively, /etc/apt/sources.list can contain any number of repositories for any trees, and a default tree (this can be overridden using the -t switch on the command line) in /etc/apt/apt.conf:

APT::Default-Release "testing";

Per-package settings go in /etc/apt/preferences, somewhat like Gentoo's /etc/portage/package.keywords.

To configure your ethernet interfaces, take a look at:
File: /etc/conf.d/net

# This is basically the ifconfig argument without the ifconfig $iface
iface_eth0=" broadcast netmask"

File: /etc/network/interfaces

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static
# etc.


As of now, Debian still uses XFree86 4.3 in the sarge release. You can use the .deb-configuration script to get a basic /etc/X11/XF86Config-4:

dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86

No, no, you're not thinking, you're just being logical. ~ Niels Bohr

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